On the drive home from our weekend in DC with my family, Watson and I had the brilliant idea to recreate the dish that I was so disappointed with. While I am at university I work for our dining services and I am always asking my superiors questions about food. I asked one of the cooks about scallops, where to find them here and any ideas on getting cocoa nibs to stick. He recommended a flour, egg, and bread and fry method. He said make a breading which whatever I want, let it cure in the fridge and give them a fry.
A NOTE ON BREADING:
Did you know that if you let your food sit for 10-20min in your fridge before you fry them, the breading sticks better?
This is why, by allowing the breading to have a chance to dry in the refrigerator, the eggs harden and shrink around the scallop. This happens as the water evaporates in the egg whites so that all that remains are dehydrated protein webs. It creates a crisp, waterproof layer that has hardened like superglue. The breading will stay on better while frying. The cook I asked about the scallops also confirmed this. My mom and I originally learned this trick from the Cook’s illustrated recipe article for pork schnitzel.
Watson and I did the shopping, invited my cousin Rachael and our friend Megu over and we started cooking. We could not find a celery root, but I did find the lotus root our plate was garnished with. We had scallops, turnip roots, greens, and cocoa nibs, everything we would need to recreate this dish the way we thought it should have been.
We started by making Tiramisu. We used a recipe that was given to me by a chef at my grandfather’s restaurant in Puerto Rico sorry to say I cannot put it on the internet. But it is an amazing way of making a light yet sturdy tiramisu.
Next we worked on the main dish…
The first thing I did was have Megu zest multiple oranges. I placed that and some orange juice, grapefruit juice and some maple syrup and pot and set it on low. I made sure our frozen scallops were thawing as a mixed panko, chopped cocoa nibs, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and paprika. I set the egg whites aside from when we made the tiramisu. (We only used the egg yolks). Instead of using all flour, I mixed cocoa powder into the flour and then the breading was ready and set aside. Watson pulled the seeds out of a pomegranate and Megu segmented the oranges. Rachael made a salad dressing with Lemon juice and olive oil for the base and maple syrup as the sweetener. I told Rachael to add Parmesan cheese, pink pepper corns, black pepper, oregano, and parsley.
Meanwhile, Watson peeled and cut the two turnips, and a Yukon gold potato. She placed them in a pot with water, parsley, and fresh thyme. Once the roots were fork tender, we drained them and put them back in the pot with cream, butter and more herbs. The turnips and potatoes sat in the cream mixture while they cooled. I wanted them to absorb some of the liquid before we pureed it. Once the root chunks absorbed the mixture and cooled slightly, Watson ran the pieces through a blender and we seasoned with salt and pepper.
To actually prepare the scallops we first dried them with paper towels, floured them in a mixture of flour and cocoa powder, coated them with egg whites, then the spiced bread crumb mixture. I fried them in a mixture of canola and olive oil until the bread crumbs were crispy and the scallops were cooked.
A NOTE ON BREADING:
Did you know that if you let your food sit for 10-20min in your fridge before you fry them, the breading sticks better? For example, by allowing the breading to have a chance to dry in the refrigerator, the eggs harden and shrink around the scallop. This happens as the water evaporates in the egg whites so that all that remains are dehydrated protein webs. It creates a crisp, waterproof layer that has hardened like superglue. The breading will stay on better while frying. Eric (one of the cook I work for here at school) has also confirmed this. My mom and I learned this trick from the Cook’s illustrated recipe article for pork schnitzel.
So we had salad- Mixed greens with a maple citrus dressing, orange segments and pomegranate seeds.
Scallops- fried to perfection on a serving of the puree with the glaze drizzled around and fried lotus on top
And dessert, make shift tiramisu
Our scallops had flavor. The maple citrus glaze was present. All of the orange zest had the chance to brown and deepen in flavor. I won’t lie, I should have added the zest at the end to keep the brightness but alas, I couldn’t change it now. At least mine had both maple and citrus present. It was delicious. The browned sugar taste played off of the bitter, sweet and spicy breading with the creamy scallop. The puree was divine! It was so smooth and rich. Everything on the plate really just played so well together! I couldn’t believe we had done it! And it was every prettier than the plate we got in DC.
The salad. Even more citrus. The dressing Rachael made had every complexity you want out of a salad dressing. It was sweet, rich and tangy. Then, the pink pepper corns hit you. They were not spicy hot, they were rosy and so full of flavor; the subtle heat and complex umami they were providing went so well the scallop plate and the other components of the dish. The pomegranate and orange is a classic combination anyway. With mixed greens and some Parmesan cheese, the salad was a hit. On the table we had more pink pepper, black pepper and lime salt. I wanted citrus. So grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime were all represented. Overall, it was a success. Watson and I had an adventure, discovered a really good restaurant and then made some good food afterward.
Thank you for being strung along on this three part story. I am working on another adventure but with classes starting I might not be able to post as often as I would like.
Until we meet again, Happy eating!